VEREKER, Charles (1768-1842), of Roxborough, co. Limerick and Loughcutra, Gort, co. Galway.
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Family and Education
b. 1768, 2nd s. of Thomas Vereker of Roxborough by Juliana, da. of Charles Smyth, MP [I], of Limerick, sis. of John Prendergast Smyth, 1st Visct. Gort [I]. m. (1) 7 Nov. 1789, Jane (d. 19 Feb. 1798), da. of Ralph Westropp of Attyflyn, co. Limerick, wid. of William Stamer of Carnelly, co. Clare, 1s. 3da.; (2) 5 Mar. 1810, Elizabeth, da. of John Palliser of Derryluskan, co. Tipperary, 1s. 1da. suc. uncle as 2nd Visct. Gort [I] 23 May 1817.
MP [I] 1794-1800; rep. peer [I] 1823-d.
Commr. of treasury [I] May 1807-1810; PC [I] 17 Jan. 1809, [GB] 3 Sept. 1834.
Constable, Limerick Castle Nov. 1809-d.; gov. co. Galway 1814.
Midshipman RN 1782; ensign, 1 Ft. 1785-90; col. Limerick city militia 1793.
Vereker was returned to the Irish parliament for Limerick on the interest of his uncle Prendergast Smyth, to whose estate worth nearly £18,000 a year and title he became heir-designate and who also sat for Limerick until 1797. In the rebellion he distinguished himself in command of the Limerick militia against the invading French general Humbert at Coloony, 5 Sept. 1798. He opposed the Union but ‘got much credit by his declaration’ in the Irish house
that though he had opposed the measure in every stage of its progress with all his might, yet after it was passed into a law he would as cordially resist every attempt in opposition to it hereafter as if he had never opposed it.
This was supposed to have inspired several other Members to declare the same, though Castlereagh gave the credit to Dawson of Monaghan.1
Vereker lost his seat on the Union ballot, but in 1802 his colleague Grady received legal office and Vereker replaced him unopposed. On 2 Mar. 1803 he opposed the perpetuation of Irish war duties in debate and, like the other Limerick Members, on 4 Mar. he voted—and also spoke—with opposition for an inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s finances. On 9 Mar. he was ‘most indecently violent against Corry in the House’, according to the chief secretary, who tried to placate him by promising to restore to him some of the local patronage forfeited to Lord Limerick by his family’s opposition to the Union, if he behaved himself. But on 15 Mar. Vereker, peeved at not being able to recover ‘the whole patronage’, informed Wickham that he was ‘always a firm friend or a decided enemy’. This ‘declaration of war’ was nullified by Addington, who soon afterwards ‘absolutely turned Vereker’s head by the compliment he paid him in the House of Commons’. It only encouraged Vereker to ask for the red ribband.2 Reporting to the minister that Vereker had come over posthaste from Limerick to give his vote for him on Patten’s censure motion of 3 June 1803, the chief secretary subsequently requested on his behalf
that he may have a memorial of Coloony attached to his family arms. He thinks no more of the [order of the] Bath, and will be perfectly satisfied with this honour ... I have talked with Lord Cornwallis who ... thinks it will be a cheap price paid for a very troublesome man, who is full of vanity, but warm in his attachments ... I think a line from yourself to him ... might do a great deal of good and considering the personal hold you already have over him, such an attention would probably make him yours for ever.3
Vereker spoke for government defence proposals on 18 July 1803 and duly added the Coloony supporters to his arms on 4 Aug. but, preoccupied as he was with his militia duties, he spoke strongly and voted against the Irish militia offer bill, 10 Apr. 1804, arguing that the safety of Ireland must come first. Next day he railed against Ireland’s having to pay the cost of replacing her absent militia and waxed sarcastic about the supposed ‘beneficial effects’ of the Union, when the country was still under martial law. On 16 Apr. he opposed and was teller against the Irish militia augmentation bill, drawing on his experience in raising the army of reserve in Limerick.
Vereker was prepared to support Pitt’s second ministry in May 1804, but asked for the government of Limerick in place of the late Lord Clarina, which, to Vereker’s disgust, was thought more suited to a general. He was placated with a suggestion that he should succeed Col. Cockayne as constable of Limerick Castle. The chief secretary, recommending this from Pitt to the viceroy, added that he deserved well, having ‘resisted all the overtures ... made to him by the Prince’s party’. Vereker spoke on the government side in debate, 22 June 1804, and intervened a week later on the nuisance of small bank-notes in Ireland. He was absent ill at the start of the next session and on 1 Feb. 1805 wrote in a huff to Pitt to complain that Nepean, as chief secretary, had deceived him on the subject of the constableship of Limerick, which Cockayne would not give up. He boasted of his family’s representing Limerick for nearly a century and claimed that their loyalty to the crown had gone unrewarded since the King’s accession. He came over and voted against Catholic relief, 14 May 1805, and on 10 June Pitt assured him that he should succeed Cockayne as soon as adequate compensation could be found for him. In December the chief secretary informed Pitt that Vereker had written him ‘a sulky letter upon our milita augmentation plan’, and suggested a place, then vacant, which might serve to pension off Cockayne for Vereker’s benefit.4
When Vereker applied to Pitt’s successor Lord Grenville for satisfaction in March 1806, the latter was informed by Chief Secretary Elliot that he was
a person, to whom it will be worth the while of government to pay attention, whenever a proper opportunity may occur to show him civility. At the same time I must apprise you that he generally voted with the late government, that he opposed the Union, and that ... he is rather anti-Catholic.
Elliot feared that satisfying Vereker would offend ‘persons with far superior claims on government’ and the question was shelved. On 9 May Vereker pressed the minister for a decision and Grenville, satisfied that he was ‘decidedly with the government’, urged compliance with his wishes, reserving however his doubtful claim to recover land adjoining Limerick Castle for his family. At this juncture, Vereker prejudiced his claim by his violent opposition to the Irish chancellor of the exchequer’s election bill, 19 June 1806, calling it ‘a death-blow at every corporation in Ireland’ and hinting that it was anti-Protestant and designed to secure Newport’s own election for Waterford. He rejoiced openly in the bill’s postponement, 23 June. Grenville was the less concerned when in August the lord lieutenant found it difficult to meet Vereker’s wishes.5
Vereker was listed ‘doubtful’ after the ensuing election, and on 25 Mar. and 9 Apr. 1807 supported the new Portland ministry by his vote. Although they were unable to bestow the constableship on him at once, ministers offered him ‘a better office’, as a commissioner of the Irish treasury, while he waited for the other. Before the ensuing election Lord Hawkesbury, recommending it to the chief secretary as a fulfilment of Pitt’s promise, commented: ‘He is a man of good family, of large fortune and larger expectations and has been under all circumstances a steady friend’. To the viceroy Hawkesbury wrote: ‘He is a good sort of man, but vain and full of his own consequence’. Vereker accepted, little realizing that government had second thoughts to overcome. On 24 July 1807 he was a spokesman for the Irish insurrection bill. In the following year, he asked to be a privy councillor, which was granted, and in November 1809 he received the constableship of Limerick. At this stage, he pressed his uncle’s claims for an Irish peerage with remainder to himself. Government, while appreciative of his ‘steady support’, insisted on a barony, not a viscountcy, and that if Vereker were remaindered, which must be legally justified first, he must resign his treasury office or he would be regarded as over favoured. His uncle became a baron, 15 May 1810, and Vereker duly resigned from the treasury board, though not until the end of the session to suit government convenience. He had displeased the ministry that spring by pairing during the Scheldt debates and a bid was made to get him to recall the pair, but he had not done so by 30 Mar. and did not attend until after the recess. He voted against sinecure reform, 17 May, against parliamentary reform, 21 May, and on 1 June 1810 against Catholic relief (which he on 20 Apr. 1812 stated to be opposed by most Limerick Protestants). He again voted against relief on 22 June 1812, 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May 1813. On 21 May 1812 he was in the government minority on Stuart Wortley’s motion.6
Vereker survived a contest in 1812 and also an inquiry into a breach of military regulations committed by him, which on its discovery in 1814 caused him to appeal unsuccessfully to Lord Sidmouth to prevent a court-martial and secure the Prince Regent’s arbitration. On 13 July 1814 he spoke in favour of the Irish preservation of the peace bill. When in August 1815 his uncle’s promotion to a viscountcy, which Vereker had pressed for, was approved by government, his own ‘recent misconduct’ was not thought a sufficient obstacle. On 16 Jan. 1816 his uncle became Viscount Gort, and Vereker at once pressed for an earldom for him and irritated the viceroy by bargaining about his attendance before or after Easter, behaving like a ‘shabby fellow’ and pairing with Bowes Daly, who had had no intention of leaving Ireland. On 1 Mar. 1816 he was present, and on 8 Mar. called for a large military establishment in Ireland. He voted against Catholic relief on 9 May 1817, a fortnight before his ‘larger expectations’ were realized by his uncle’s death. Considered, in his prime, ‘a handsome, vulgar, forward Irishman’, he died 11 Nov. 1842.7
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. Barnard Letters, 122; HO 100/94, Castlereagh to Portland, 9 June .
- 2. Wickham mss 5/19, Wickham to Marsden, 7, 15, 28 Mar.; 5/21, Wickham to Hardwicke, 10 Mar. 1803.
- 3. Wickham mss 1/24, Wickham to Addington, 26 June 1803.
- 4. PRO 30/8/325, f. 56; 328, f. 267; 329, f. 1; 330, f. 310; Add. 35715, f. 107.
- 5. HMC Fortescue, viii. 75, 81, 94, 139, 295, 299; Fortescue mss, Grenville to Elliot, 13 May; NLS mss 12917, Newport to Elliot, 21 June 1806.
- 6. Wellington mss, Castlereagh to Wellesley, 28 Apr., Hawkesbury to same, 6 May, Wellesley to Vereker, 9 May 1807; Add. 38242, f. 286; 38320, f. 100; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 489, 506; NLI, Richmond mss, 62/527, 64/655, 66/884, 70/1321-2, 72/1521, 1531, 1533; 73/1669, 1687, 1715-16.
- 7. Add. 38261, f. 305; 40182, f. 142; 40189, ff. 73, 77, 86, 195; 40190, f. 8; 40191, f. 52; 40202, f. 25; 40287, ff. 79, 92, 176, 197; Warrenne Blake, Irish Beauty, 44.